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Last Updated: Monday, 26 December 2005, 11:26 GMT
8 days in July
Composite graphic of Live 8, G8, war commemorations and the London bombs
In a period of eight days at the height of summer, the UK experienced an extraordinary series of events which shook the country and in many ways shaped 2005.

What happened between 2 July and 10 July was Live8, the G8 Gleneagles Summit, London awarded the 2012 Olympics, the suicide bomb attacks on the capital, and National Commemoration Day on the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

People at the heart of these events spoke to a BBC Radio 4 documentary about what they remember of the breathtaking highs and heart-rending lows.


"I didn't want to do Live8, because I didn't think it was necessary," says Sir Bob Geldof. But he was persuaded by his friend Bono, who thought the concerts would help the push for action on global poverty.

"So he said: 'It's 20 years ago' and I went: 'It was 20 years ago today,' recalls Sir Bob.

Live8 concert
There were 10 concerts, headed by Hyde Park
"And he said: 'What if we get McCartney and U2 to open up with "It was 20 years ago"?'

"And I wanted to see that happen. That's the truth. I wanted to see that moment on a stage."

For the first time, the man in charge of negotiating for Britain at the G8 - Sir Michael Jay - reveals that the concert had a direct effect on the final pre-summit meeting.

The meeting was in Lancaster House, on the same day as Live8.

"We could hear the concert tuning up," says Sir Michael. "We were conscious of people walking in their thousands down the Mall to get to Hyde Park. And you couldn't not be conscious of that as the background to the negotiations we were engaged in."

He adds that in 30 years of negotiations, he's never known a case where outside pressure had such a direct effect on the outcome.


Philip Pope, media manager for the British Olympics Association, says that Live8 had a positive effect on the members of the International Olympic Committee, gathered in Singapore for the crucial vote.

"These mad people in Britain who'd put a show together, this great pop rock event and there was something cool about Britain."

Trafalgar Square
Wild celebrations greeted the news London was to be host
His team decided to squeeze out every advantage to get their message across. They discovered that the default television channel in the IOC members' hotel was a local Singapore network. Pope arranged for London bid members to do interviews with the channel 10 minutes before the vote.

"We knew that IOC members would be brushing their teeth and coming from those hotel rooms to the forum where they actually voted. And we took the gamble that they might hear our final interview and we might be the last country they heard from."

But he fears that Britain hasn't had the chance to really appreciate the magnitude of the London bid's triumph.

"We weren't allowed to celebrate that victory," he says. "Consequently the messages that the public would have received, about what a massive project this is and the work that remains to be done - I don't think we've really grasped that yet."


The next morning, Jill Tyrell was on the Tube, when a suicide bomber struck.

Speaking for the first time since the atrocity, she says: "Literally in the next second everything was black around me and there was a bright light as well.

"And it was as though I was the only person at that moment in the carriage. I remember thinking to myself 'Am I dead or alive?'"

Gary Stevens, a manager at Russell Square station, was one of the first people to reach the train. He recalls talking to a man who had lost a leg in the blast.

"He was a very brave man, he did tell me a joke. He said he was glad London had gained the Olympics as he was going to be the first person who worked in London to win a gold medal in the Paralympics."


Sir Michael Jay says the news of the bomb came just as the opening G8 session began.

"People stopped talking about what they were talking about and said: 'OK, now how are we going to react?' And then there was a spontaneous discussion among the leaders of the world really about how they should react."

I crouched down and I was shaking and I cried one or two
Sir Bob Geldof
He says there was unanimous agreement that Tony Blair should fly to London but that the work of the summit should continue.

Sir Bob Geldof argues the bombs changed the tone of the negotiations. He believes they prevented the G8 reaching a breakthrough agreement on trade - although they did sign a huge aid package for the world's poorest countries.

At the end of the summit he walked out into the woods to be alone.

"I crouched down and I was shaking and I cried one or two," he says. "I kept saying in my head: 'It's over, it's over, it's over.'"


The following Sunday a massive crowd gathered in London for events on National Commemoration Day, which fell between VE and VJ days.

Shadow of a soldier
Commemorations were held on the nearest Sunday to VE and VJ days
There was a concert in Horseguards Parade and a flypast by World War II planes, which dropped a million poppies on the Mall.

The sight struck one RAF veteran, Bill Stoneman, with mixed feelings.

"Very great pride in myself having done my duty. But also my heart was heavy looking around at the people gathering the poppies. Some of them must have had loved ones who they'd lost at that time."

And Joan Cole, a veteran of the Women's Royal Naval Service, was equally moved by the event.

"I thought this is the end," she says. "We're not going to have any of these great reunions, not on that scale. Now we've really got to think about how old we are and what's next."

8 Days in July was broadcast on Boxing Day on BBC Radio 4 - you can listen again via the BBC Radio Player until 2 January.



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